COVID-19: What dog walkers and pet owners should know

Dog Health May 18, 2020

Being a dog walker and owner is interesting at the best of times. But COVID-19 has brought with it new challenges for pet owners. As if droughts, bushfires, floods weren't enough in 2020, now a pandemic has changed our physical and emotional landscape.

And while restrictions may be easing in Australia, COVID it seems here to stay. So it's essential to stay informed if you want to keep you, your family and your fur babies safe.

Now, there's a lot to keep up with when it comes to the Coronavirus; lots of do's and don'ts that change almost daily. So it's no surprise that pet owners and those in the pet care industry are concerned. And while your dog may not be susceptible to the Coronavirus, there's lots of support to help you manage this new reality.

But our furry friends still need their exercise, so here's our advice on dog walking and keeping your pup happy and safe during COVID-19.

Here's our guide to exercising your dog safely and responsibly during this pandemic.

Dog walking in a pandemic

You may be in the enviable position of being able to spend more time with your pets. But whether you need more or less support when it comes to exercising your dog, keeping your pet in a routine is essential.

If your regular dog walker is unavailable, try reaching out for help with your furbaby. There are many reasons a dog walker is no longer available, but there's another perfect match out there for you and your pooch.

There are options for contactless dog walking services which would mean picking up and dropping off your pup in a safe area, likely the front or back garden of your home. If this makes you feel more comfortable, you can discuss it with your walker. However, as long as you and your dog walker stick to social distancing rules, you and your pet should be fine.

Meet & Greets during the COVID-19 pandemic

Virtual meet & greets are a new normal. People are using Zoom, Skype, Google hangouts and more to stay connected to family, friends and work colleagues.

Whether you're cautious, have tested positive for COVID or work in essential services, make sure you implement social distancing when meeting people face to face. If you can meet and greet outdoors, all the better.

In Australia, there is the potential for a second wave of the Coronavirus, so it's essential not to be complacent. If you are experiencing even mild flu or cold symptoms, arrange a test as soon as possible. And confirm you are virus-free before making physical contact with anyone.

The 3 step COVID-safe plan being implemented in Australia will gradually see restrictions removed and daily life slowly becoming more regular. But this new reality will be around for quite some time. Possibly even beyond the discovery of a vaccine.

Postponing my daily dog walker due to Coronavirus

It could be due to finances, or it could be a case of being available to walk your dog yourself right now. Perhaps you have concerns about the spread of COVID, or you may even be self-isolating. Whatever the reason, while supporting your dog walker is essential, so is doing what you feel is right for you and your family.

The pet care industry is doing everything possible to keep you and your loved ones safe. Implementing best practices at all times but being especially vigilant about hygiene in the current climate.

Small business is definitely doing it tough right now, so they particularly appreciate your support during this pandemic.

Safe spaces and the new normal

There's no immediate danger to your dogs when walking on the beach or at the dog park. They may have more space than usual to run around or you may find your local area more crowded. This can depend when and where you exercise your pet. But the less interaction with strange dogs you and your pooch have the better protected you'll be. To avoid the crowds, try an earlier or later time slot and perhaps there's a more extensive dog park or beach not too far away.

Dog walkers must practice correct hand washing, particularly in a pandemic. They should also make every effort to avoid jam-packed spaces. If you're walking your own dog, consider wearing a mask, be sure to practice social distancing and wash or sanitize your hands often. While it's highly unlikely humans can contract the COVID-19 virus from dogs, studies have shown animal fur can carry the virus. As a consequence, you may find that your walker has a limit on how many dogs are exercised together.

Exercising our dog is often an essential part of human and fur-baby mental and physical health. And you should be using at least an hour per day with your pup, so they stay fit and healthy.

  • Both owners and walkers need to wash their hands before and after each walk.
  • As an extra precaution, you can wipe down your dog's paws and fur before entering the home.
  • Disposable gloves or hand sanitizer are vital if you're in a public area because germs can survive for a long time on things like park tables, bins and other equipment.

Driving and your dog

We can now drive further, which means more options for dog walkers and owners. But it's still best to avoid popular areas, particularly at peak times.

Outdoor gyms, swimming pools and playgrounds are starting to open up around Australia, which will help relieve the boredom of daily life in this pandemic. Still, the government suggests using them with caution. As a consequence, more people are walking in parks and on beaches as a form of exercise. Discourage friendly dogs from approaching strange people or dogs. Try leashing and walking in quieter areas and keep your distance from other people.

Dog walking is a very social activity for Australians. Many friendships are formed, and you can now be outdoors with small groups of friends. But if you're an older dog owner or your health puts at risk, social media groups are a great way to stay connected. They're a great space to share tips and advice and stay connected. At-risk groups include those with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses. If you're more susceptible to contracting the virus, consider self-isolating at home and arranging for a dog walker.

Walking someone else's fur baby

If you're helping out a friend or neighbour by walking their dog, remember to practice proper hygiene before and after dog walks and to only interact with the animals' owners from a safe distance without entering their homes.

If you're self-isolating and need the services of a dog walker, your dog should be leashed during walks. Limit the spread of the virus by avoiding contact with other people and animals in public.

If you contract the COVID-19 virus, you should cease all interactions with your pet and pass on the responsibility of care to your friends and family if possible.

Dogs play a significant role in our societies, as our companions and members of our families, so it's essential to give them extra love and attention during this time.

Conclusion

The COVID-safe recovery plan for the Australian economy and society may be a difficult period for our pets. Many of us have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time at home with our loved ones and fur-babies, but soon we will likely be heading back to the office and school.

Make sure you keep your pets feeling safe and secure by easing back into a new routine. It's never a good idea to leave them home alone for more than a few hours, but particularly right now they may wonder what happened to all the love and attention they were getting.

If you've got into a habit of taking the dog out every day for long walks but don't have the time once the usual routine is back. Consider hiring someone to do it for you. Keep your dog fit and healthy and give it lots of attention when you get home.

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